ComBank expands Dirishakthi scheme in rural Sri Lanka
The Bank has announced that the Dirishakthi scheme launched to finance commercially viable livelihood opportunities at the grassroots level, has been enhanced to benefit not just individual borrowers but all participants in their value chains, further underwriting the prospects for success and growth.
The enhancements have been designed to increase the capacity of micro-entrepreneurs’ production chains by providing both financial and non-financial services and have been brought under the twin umbrellas of the ‘Dirishakthi Value Chain Development Programme’ and the ‘Dirishakthi Sustainable Entrepreneurship Development Programme’ that encompasses sustainability initiatives as well as knowledge development and capacity building.
The Dirishakthi Value Chain Development Programme is designed to increase the productivity and profitability of an entire value chain by understanding the needs of the private and public partners involved in it, from the point of production to end-consumer. From an agricultural perspective, the scheme is created to assist entrepreneurs from ‘farm to fork,’ the Bank said.
With this new development, the Bank will identify all participants in a value chain with the assistance of existing customers or Community Based Organizations (CBOs), provide financial services by reaching vulnerable players in the community such as women entrepreneurs and low-income individuals via coordinators of its Agriculture and Micro Finance Units (AMFUs) who will actively approach these members to provide personalized support.
Under this initiative, the Bank will also facilitate new marketing opportunities to its members by linking them with its SME and corporate clients and provide cash in and cash out (CICO) services through the operations of the Automated Field Cash Collection (AFCC) and the Bank of Wheels (BOW) facility which is a fully-fledged mobile bank branch with a Cash Recycler Machine (CRM) and two teller counters.
Besides conducting financial literacy programmes, the Dirishakthi Sustainable Entrepreneurship Development programme includes networking opportunities for members, consulting and mentoring services and training and capacity building with emphasis on financial inclusion and environmental sustainability.
Under this, micro entrepreneurs are provided space to display their products and establish connections with potential buyers and business partners that could influence sales, provided saplings in the spirit of encouraging environmental protection, and are continuously assessed by the Bank’s AMFUs and Development Credit Department (DCD) to ascertain the effectiveness of the programme and its impact on the participants’ economic and social development.
The programme will also influence the use of single-use plastic among participants’ value chains and raise awareness about how it pollutes the environment.